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2012-13 Providence Bruins Report Cards: Forwards

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Last season's Providence Bruins were an exceptional team that finished first overall in the AHL. In a two-part series, we will reflect on each member of that team, starting with the forwards.

Of all the Providence Bruins forward prospects, Craig Cunningham is the one who had the best year that you've probably never heard of
Of all the Providence Bruins forward prospects, Craig Cunningham is the one who had the best year that you've probably never heard of

This will only grade forwards that played more than 10 games this season with Providence, finished the season with Providence, and will be strictly looking at their performance in the AHL (rather than in the NHL or ECHL) and with Providence (rather than with any other AHL team). This is listed alphabetically, so you will just have to deal with reading through players you don't care about or don't know exist.

Chris Bourque, LW

Ah, Chris Bourque. What a colossal disappointment. He is actually a great AHL player. A career AHL player. After his final, failed attempt to make it in the NHL, he had a pretty decent season in the AHL. He suffered a concussion towards the end of the season but was able to return for the playoffs. Unfortunately he was shut down in the final round where they lost to the Penguins in seven games. That would be his final game, as he is skipping out on his second year of his contract with the Bruins to play in the KHL because he runs away from his problems or some bullshit.

Regular Season 39 10 28 38 +4 34 130
Playoffs 12 5 9 14 -1 14 36

Grade: Automatic F for abandoning the team to go to the KHL

Carter Camper, C

In his sophomore season with Providence, Camper struggled a bit out of the gate due to nagging injuries which kept him out of the lineup off and on for the first part of the season. He finished strong however, second on the team in scoring, and had a phenomenal playoff run in which he had a hat trick and led the team in scoring as well as led the team in being awesome. He became a Restricted Free Agent this summer, and the Bruins re-signed him to a one-year, two-way contract. Expect him to make a push for the NHL with the benefit of a full season this year.

Regular Season 57 10 37 47 +2 6 143
Playoffs 12 8 5 13 +6 0 27

Grade: B+

Jordan Caron, LW

Just to spite everyone who continually rags on Jordan Caron, I'm going to sit here and talk about how awesome he is. Jordan Caron is the greatest human/horse hybrid to ever exist. He is the best Bruins prospect to come out of Quebec since Patrice Bergeron. But really guys, he is still quite young and three years into professional hockey, so naturally it's totally reasonable to give up on him and his development. Especially since he's a first round pick. Or let's go the Tyler Seguin route and trade him, because he's definitely going to get us Loui Eriksson in return. I already wrote my evaluation of Caron on the NHL and AHL level for this past season, and it was prior to the Bruins signing him. He took a huge pay cut, and rightfully so. I saw comments like "still paid too much." Oh shut up. He's got one more year - if that - on a two-way contract. Off to the races.

Regular Season 47 11 7 18 -5 38 107
Playoffs 12 2 7 9 +5 10 36

Grade: A+ just to shut everyone up. But really, D.

Craig Cunningham, LW

Now here is someone I want everyone to pay attention to. I've been clamoring about him for several months now, and many Bruins prospect writers are also doing the same. After scoring 20 goals in his rookie season, he has 25 this year. He won a Memorial Cup with Milan Lucic, and later was captain of those Vancouver Giants. He has played well consistently in the WHL, and now consistently in the AHL. Many Bruins fans don't know his name because he is not a top prospect, although I think he will make a great run for the team in training camp. If he doesn't make it out of camp, he will certainly be one of the first players to be called up. He can play on the side that the Bruins are currently weak on, although in Providence he plays on his off-wing. He played on the second line, but on the top power play unit. He had his first professional hat trick last year. And I am patenting the phrase Bam Bam Cunningham.

Regular Season 75 25 21 46 +4 26 194
Playoffs 12 3 5 8 +3 4 28

Grade: A

Justin Florek, LW

Florek was a fifth round draft pick by the Bruins in 2010, and played four years at Northern Michigan University. For one of the lesser known prospects in Providence, I thought he has a pretty good year. It was his first full pro season and he made a lot of necessary adjustments to his game. He played on the wing of the gritty role line with Bobby Robins and Christian Hanson after the departure of Lane MacDermid. He is also utilized as a penalty killer. He is in the final year of his two-way contract in 2013-14.

Regular Season 71 11 16 27 +12 37 132
Playoffs 12 1 2 3 -1 4 28

Grade: C+

Christian Hanson, C

Hanson was signed as a UFA last summer and was an important veteran presence on the team. His character was really appreciated among the fans as well. His experienced was helpful in the playoffs and through rough patches. He was great in the face-off circle. He's also great at twitter. He's currently an Unrestricted Free Agent that I really hope re-signs with Boston/Providence. Also worth noting: treasures his hair, and his dad is an actual Hanson brother from Slap Shot.

Regular Season 67 12 17 29 +9 53 114
Playoffs 12 1 2 3 -1 8 13

Grade: B

Alden Hirschfeld, RW

Hirschfeld, who is undrafted, played four years of college hockey at Miami University in Ohio, three years with Carter Camper. This was his first full pro year, having played one game of the 2011-12 season with the Portland Pirates. Hes split the year between Providence and South Carolina of the ECHL, where he scored four goals and four assists each. His role as a gritty fourth line player was utilized only in the case of injuries in Providence, and it's unclear what his contract status is with Providence right now (AHL contracts are not listed on CapGeek).

Regular Season 37 4 4 8 +1 20 44
Playoffs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Grade: D

Alexander Khokhlachev, C

Khokhlachev was only eligible to join the AHL after his OHL team was done playing for the season. He played in 11 regular season games, but Coach Cassidy elected not to play him in the playoffs. In the regular season, he was used on the power play, the top lines, and given freedom to be creative, but it's clear he still has a lot of work to do before he makes the jump to the pros full-time. However, it was exciting to watch and I think he will be a great player someday.

Regular Season 11 2 1 4 0 8 15
Playoffs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Grade: Incomplete on account of STUPID OHL.

Jared Knight, LW

As fans discuss who will win that coveted spot on the right wing in Boston next season, or who will make the team from Providence, two names come up: Spooner and Knight. Usually, I will immediately start yelling because Knight isn't in a position to make the NHL. He's barely in a position to make the AHL again. Okay, that's not true, he will definitely make the AHL again, assuming he stays healthy. But that's a big IF. He was injured for 95% of the season last year. He injured his hamstring three different times. He would return too soon and re-injure it almost immediately. It was frustrating and almost embarrassing to watch. By the time they learned their lesson, the season was ending and they weren't ready to play him in the playoffs every night.

He played 10 regular season games, but that doesn't paint a full picture because at least two or three of those games he was not able to complete and left early because he was injured. He played two games in October before his injury; one game in January; then returned full time in April. He didn't record his first point of the season until April, when he had two assists against Hershey. He had his first goal of the season April 20th against Bridgeport.

Headed into the playoffs, he actually was looking good, and I liked his style of play. He is smaller, but not afraid to be physical. The way he throws his body around and seems to like to agitate other players reminds me of Brad Marchand a lot.

He was playing on the fourth line, and Coach Cassidy opted for experience over Knight's unpredictable and questionable decision making. His physical play is good, but unwise at times; he said after a game that one of the aspects of Knight's games that needs to be worked on is making a good decision about when to throw a hit and when to play the puck. He often gets caught out of position, or in awkward position behind the net, halfway between playing the puck and throwing a hit. As a result, he was scratched for all but one game in the first round. However, Graham Mink's suspension in the second round meant Knight got to play. He was unable to step up. To be fair, he was playing on the fourth line.

Knight missed out on some important development all season in the AHL because of his injury. Because of that, I don't think he has a real chance to make it to the NHL this year, and he definitely doesn't have a chance to make it without showing up at training camp having made some impressive and unreal changes. I don't think that will happen. He needs another season to develop in the AHL, a full season, playing top minutes - like Spooner did this season.

Regular Season 10 1 2 3 +3 8 13
Playoffs 6 1 1 2 0 6 6

Grade: Incomplete. Fix your hamstring.

Kyle MacKinnon, C

Aka "shit, I keep accidentally calling him Nathan MacKinnon."

This guy is awesome. He isn't signed to an NHL contract at all, but he is a hard-working two-way center - sometimes wing - who normally played on the fourth line and killed penalties for Providence this past season. When injuries were piling on, he got promoted to more minutes and responded with more goals, including a memorable overtime game winner and adorable celebration. He's really short is what I'm saying. Most of the Providence fowards are. He played for Providence College for four years, he's undrafted, and he's had two decent years in the AHL now. I hope he's back next year.

Regular Season 70 13 15 28 +2 10 123
Playoffs 12 1 2 3 -3 6 16

Grade: C+

Graham Mink, RW

Mink was signed to a tryout contract when the team needed an extra body on the roster due to injuries. He ended up scoring a few winning goals and playing really well, so they kept him for the rest of the season. His veteran presence was helpful along the way, and when he got suspended in the playoffs (bullshit in my opinion, because the Penguins were being just as dirty BUT I WON'T GET INTO THAT BECAUSE I'M GETTING MAD JUST THINKING ABOUT IT DAMMIT) they weren't able to, for example, have anyone to fill his role of net-front presence on the power play. That's where he scored most of his goals, which were important goals. He is a kind of career AHL player that really helps an AHL team be successful in the AHL. Do you see what I'm saying here? Some men are just meant to play in the AHL, and that's fine. Maybe you won't be coveted by NHL fans who pretend to care about prospects, but it's a paycheck and it's hockey, and Mink was unemployed before Providence called him up and gave him a job, and it was a nice, heart-warming story. (Accept your fate in the AHL, Chris Bourque.) I have no idea if he will be back in Providence next year, but I'm inclined to say no.

Regular Season 33 10 8 18 -1 8 65
Playoffs 7 3 3 +1 14 12

Grade: B-. For a guy that was signed to a tryout contract, he worked out well.

Tyler Randell, RW

Randell either was a healthy scratch, in the ECHL, or not doing anything of note in the AHL lineup. He was drafted by the Bruins in the sixth round in 2009 and been pro for two seasons now but hasn't made much of an impression. I think he is meant to be some sort of an enforcer but I'm not gonna lie to you guys, I don't even fucking know.

Regular Season 23 0 0 0 -11 56 13
Playoffs 0 0 0 0 0 0 0

Grade: D-

Bobby Robins, RW

Bobby Robins is awesome. Bobby Robins is excellent. Be excellent like Bobby Robins.

Seriously, everyone should be really happy for this guy. He worked really hard to put himself in a position to play in the NHL, and a few weeks ago, he finally accomplished that goal by signing a two-way contract with the Boston Bruins. Previously, he had an AHL contract only, and was a free agent upon the conclusion of the season. Peter Chiarelli did the smart thing, the right thing, the Shawn Thornton thing, and signed him to a contract that not only means he can be called up to Boston, but also pays him a lot more money. Which is great, because the newlywed is also about to be a new dad to a baby girl. He is an enforcer, but he's really smart; a poet even. At U-Mass Lowell, he was an English major who was the go-to guy when his teammates needed help/someone to do their homework.

He is really great at kicking ass and has perfected his niche role in Providence as an enforcer and provides character and energy on the bench and through his line that is what I equate to Providence's version of Boston's Merlot Line (at first it was the BuzzSaw line - MacDermid, Hanson, and Robins. When MacDermid left, it became the Factory Line - Florek, Hanson, and Robins). He also has some offensive scoring ability, even in important playoff games. There's a reason he has a big following. He is excellent. Also, he lead the league in pretty much every penalty-related category. Remember when he fought Adam McQuaid in the Black and Gold scrimmage? That was excellent too.

Regular Season 74 4 7 11 -6 316 88
Playoffs 12 1 1 2 0 69 14

Grade: B. For B Excellent. Also for BuzzSaw.

Ryan Spooner, C

In his first full professional season, Spooner seemed to have trouble at times adjusting, but by the second half of the season, was fully comfortable and could be dominant at the flip of a switch. It was just a matter of whether or not he felt like flipping that switch. Sometimes he seemed like he didn't feel like competing. When he did feel like it, he did a pretty good job - he finished first in rookie scoring in the AHL and first in scoring on the P-Bruins. He had a good enough year that I wouldn't be surprised if he made Boston next season, although I think he needs to play center to be fully effective.

Regular Season 59 17 40 57 14 14 192
Playoffs 12 2 3 5 -4 4 37

Grade: A-

Jamie Tardif, RW

Tardif had a great year. His first 30-goal season and his first NHL game - which he waited a long time for, as he is almost 30. He played in the AHL All-Star Classic as well. He is a great AHL player, and unfortunately is a UFA whose status I am uncertain of. I'd love to see him back in Providence next season.

Regular Season 62 30 15 45 -5 45 184
Playoffs 12 7 4 11 2 10 29

Grade: A

Trent Whitfield, C

CAPTAIN TRENT HAS RETIRED. Sadness now plagues me. In his final year, he was able to represent his team as captain of the East in the All-Star Game, and take them to the second round of the playoffs. He was a great captain. Bruins fans like to make fun of him because he is a questionable NHL player, but he is a good AHL captain, and a great person. This season he battled concussion problems but returned triumphantly in the second half of the season with a big game winning goal that I remember particularly well because it happened right in front of me in the front row. It was awesome. Captain Trent rules. He was also a good face-off guy, a steady fourth line center, and a good first-unit penalty killer (he and Lane MacDermid were a force to be reckoned with, I tell you. A FORCE OT BE RECKONED WITH - STOP LAUGHING AT ME). It was reported that he will return to Providence in some sort of front office job soon, so that is awesome.

Regular Season 48 6 6 12 +1 20 90
Playoffs 11 0 2 2 -2 14 0

Grade: A++ because he's retired and have some respect!